What is Lateral Epicondylitis?

Lateral epicondylitis is an inflammation of the tendons that attach the muscles of the forearm to outside of the elbow. It is also commonly known as “tennis elbow” due to the relationship between this sport and the development of this condition. The function of these muscles is to raise the wrist and fingers.


What is the Cause of Lateral Epicondylitis?

Not only tennis players develop lateral epicondylitis. It is caused by strenuous repetitive activities involving lifting with the hand facing down. When it is related to tennis players, usually an improper racquet, grip or inappropriate technique is the cause. Pain is prominent at the attachment of the outer muscles of the elbow and can radiate to the muscles in the forearm. Symptoms can progress to the point that the patient cannot lift light objects due to pain. This condition is more common in patients in their late 30’s or early 40’s.

How is it Diagnosed?

Lateral epicondylitis is diagnosed by history and clinical examination, but x-rays may be necessary to rule out joint or bone injury.

What is the Treatment?

Treatment of lateral epicondylitis includes limiting or stopping activities that provoke the pain. A forearm band may be used to diminish tension on the injured extensor muscles. Stretching exercises with physical therapy is another helpful tool to return the patient to normal activities. Lateral epicondylitis can be a chronic condition and may take several weeks to heal.

UofL Health – Hand Care can determine the best treatment plan for a lateral epicondylitis diagnosis. If conservative treatment does not improve the symptoms, a course of steroid injections or surgery are options. Different surgical techniques have been developed to treat this condition. UofL Health – Kleinert Kutz Surgery Center can advise you as to which procedure is best suited for you.

For more information or to schedule an appointment please contact us at 502-561-4263 or 1-800-477-4263. To request an appointment online, use our Appointment Request Form.

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